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Top 10 Health Retreats 2005

These days, a luxury hotel can't call itself complete without the onsite presence of a swanky signature spa. But spa therapies are only one small part of an in-depth wellness program. Physical fitness, mindfulness and nutrition are also essential. The escapes we've chosen embrace holistic philosophies, with specially designed programs to cultivate the body, mind and spirit. These places are about more than just going on holiday. They are about good health. The world is fast-paced, and most of us find it hard to slow down and really nurture ourselves. So check out this list, hop on a plane and let the experts do the work for you.


Miraval, Life in Balance

As far as this resort's philosophy is concerned, the name says it all. This destination is about balancing your life. You're here to do more than just get into shape. You're here—in a gorgeous desert setting outside Tucson—to focus on your life's purpose. We recommend The Ultimate Package, which gives you unlimited access to all scheduled activities (desert landscape photography hikes, drumming, meditation, petroglyph walks and horsemanship classes), as well as a spa service or round of golf per night. Feeling stressed out, undertaking a life transition or working on your weight? Balanced Living Programs (for stays of four days or more) combine a customized itinerary with the resort's core elements of healthy eating, exercise and the mind/body connection.


Canyon Ranch

Canyon Ranch is considered among the granddaddies of the United States' "wellness as lifestyle" resorts. This outpost is located in the beautiful Berkshires, and the only thing you might find stressful here is the array of choices. Stays begin with a basic three to seven-day package, which includes a selection of 45 complimentary fitness classes daily (as varied as Tai Chi hikes and Broadway dancing), and allowances for health and spa services—there are more than 225 options. As well, there are lectures, workshops and cooking demonstrations. You can supplement your experience with focused health packages such as Ayurvedic or Stress Management. Sure, it may seem overwhelming at first, but with professionals on hand to guide you, inner serenity is just a check-in away.


Hart & Hind

Everything in Texas is super-sized, including the attitude toward health. In the Lone Star state, Hart & Hind invites you to get into shape in majestic, wide open spaces. Emphasizing the physical (and often rigorous) aspect of wellness, this ranch-style retreat spans 5,250 Hill Country acres. A personal assessment will get you started on your week-long stay, helping you shape a strategy based around hiking the hills and hollows of Frio Canyon. A daily schedule may include stretching, boot camp, aqua conditioning or power hiking. There are also special activities such as horseback riding and bread making. And if all the natural beauty isn't enough to soothe your mind, a meditation hour is offered each afternoon.


Ilha Grande
The Island Experience

First things first: this place is not as luxurious as the others on this list. In fact, it's downright rustic. Opened in the spring of 2004, it combines yoga, meditation, nutrition and outdoor adventure exercise, such as rainforest hiking and sea kayaking. If you're coming here, prepared to be physically challenged. That is, when you're not taking yoga classes, getting your daily massage or taking classes in painting or capoeira (a graceful blend of Brazilian dance and martial arts). Seven-day programs are designed to detox your body and destress your mind. They are offered out of the Eco Dive & Resort Lodge in the Atlantic rainforest overlooking the ocean. All rooms have private verandahs, and dinner is served by candlelight.


St. Lucia
BodyHoliday at LeSport

The all-inclusive holiday. It's a sybarite's dream come true. But what does this really mean? At the lavish BodyHoliday at LeSport, it starts with meals, fitness classes, a spa treatment each day and green fees at a nearby golf course. The variety of complimentary activities on offer will leave you speechless: archery, fencing, massage, scuba diving, rainforest hikes... Supplement them with one of the resort's focused Holidays, Master Class Retreats (Kundalina Yoga, Urban Tai Chi) or weekly retreats: Increasing Your Intuitive Currency, Stress Management. Consult with a BodyGuide to tailor your stay so you can achieve the BodyHoliday goal of developing a quality of life to take back with you out into the real world.


Alajuela Province
Pura Vida Retreat & Spa

Vinyasa. Kripalu. Tantra. If you're looking to learn more about yoga, this is the place. Yoga plays a central role in the wellness programs offered here. Daily classes are included in the Mind/Body/Spirit Adventure Week (along with a complimentary massage and eco-adventure tours), and numerous weekly programs focus on yoga—Thai Yoga Therapy Massage, Anusara Yoga Goddess Retreat, etc. You can even take yoga training classes. Optional activities include meditation, coffee field hikes and salsa dancing. Accommodations range from luxury suites to picturesque "tentalows." The natural beauty of Costa Rica provides the backdrop for this mountaintop estate, which overlooks the Irazú, Barva and Poás volcanoes and the Central Valley all the way to San José.



This sacred locale—the Himalayan mountains overlooking the Ganges River—is an ideal site for a wellness retreat. And if the magnificent landscape isn't enough for you, this resort also resides in a palace estate, the former residence of the Maharaja of Tehri Garhwal. Along with Raj-era décor, Tantric art and spa cuisine, you'll find The Wellness Centre. It is staffed by nutritionists, physicians and spa therapists who use a combination of traditional Indian and modern Western techniques, many of which incorporate Himalayan spring waters. Programs include the three or five night Ananda Wellness Bliss and three, five or seven night Ananda Sanjeevni, which builds on Bliss's spa and wellness activities with customized yoga sessions and Ayurvedic mind and body therapies.


Delphi Mountain Resort & Spa

Irish eyes are smiling on this gem of a wellness retreat in County Galway. It's surrounded by the incredible beauty of Killary Harbour and Connemara National Park, and the concept is to unite this natural setting with fitness, mind/body therapy and spa pampering. Each of the two basic programs—Health Spa and Great Outdoors—features its own complimentary activities, ranging from Tai Chi and herbal massage to sea kayaking and dolphin watching. There are also specialized packages such as Spa Indulgence and Relax and Destress. Architecture of native stone, ash, oak and elm works in harmony with the environment. Peregrine restaurant's all-natural cuisine emphasizes local seafood and produce from the resort's own greenhouses.


Baja California

Rancho la Puerta

Those interested in the history of the wellness movement will love this place, which dates back to 1940. Founders Edmond and Deborah Szekely were holistic health forerunners, preaching the threats of cholesterol and processed foods long before such denouncements became vogue. Just an hour's drive south of San Diego, Rancho la Puerto offers self-designed weekly stays—guest briefings guide you through the Six Facets of Fitness (Cardiovascular Workouts, Personal Rewards, etc.), which will provide the framework for your stay. There are also specialty weeks, such as Mind-Body-Spirit Growth and Tai Chi in Paradise. Lodgings are done in charming casita style, and the kitchens are served by the six-acre Rancho Tres Estrellas organic farm.


Hua Hin
Chiva-Som International Health Resort

The royal resort of Hua Hin is one of Thailand's quieter beach retreats, making it a perfect setting for a wellness holiday. Here you'll find a program for just about everything: Holistic Health, Natural Detox and Personal Discovery, to name but a few. Professionals in aromatherapy, naturopathy, acupuncture and more rely on a blend of traditional Eastern rituals and contemporary Western techniques. An initial consultation helps shape your stay, particularly if you opt for a basic Wellness Retreat, in which you choose from pampering, fitness and holistic health treatments. Among the many choices are Thai massage, Oriental foot rituals, Qi Gong and Watsu. Accommodations are in picturesque pavilions—request a room with a view of the sea.

Top 10 Health Retreats
Top 10 Health Retreats 2006

(Updated: 1/2/13 KNF)

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